If one lives in an area where snowfall is a possibility or is of that breed who believe in taking their RIDE to the Northern/Northeastern part of our country during the winter months, then we need to be prepared for winter driving conditions. That means having set of tire chains that will help one to drive in the snow.
Now snow cables, are winter essentials that help one to go that much further distance when the other vehicle gets bogged down by too much snow on the road. They also are a much needed safety asset in winter driving conditions.
When choosing cables, it is important to consider a number of factors especially for us who are not regular users of these accessories. The primary considerations which I have listed down are
- Choose the right size cable chain for the tyre in question: This is explained in successive paragraphs.
- Installation procedure.
- Status of cables while the vehicle is on the move
- Speed rating.
- Automaker specifications
- Ease factor
To talk a bit more on the above:
- Choosing the right kind of cable for the tyre. This depends on the size of tyre in question. Look at the three measurements embossed on the tyre which will help in determining the correct size of snow cable/chain that will be suitable. These are Tire width, tire height ratio and the diameter of the wheel expressed in inches. This data is critical and no tolerance in error is accepted. Link for details on this aspect : https://traveldreams.live/2015/08/13/tyres/
- Automaker specifications. All automakers specify the class of tire chains that can be used. This has to be followed else the wheels, suspension, brakes etc. components could be damaged on use of snow cables/chains.
- Class. Look for snow cables/chains that are rated as SAE Class “S”. These are sized for today’s front wheel drive cars and lower ground clearances. The other classes are designed for vehicles with higher ground clearances.
Note. S.A.E Class “S” is the society of Automotive Engineers definition of the least amount of space that should be provided around the drive tires of any vehicle to accommodate a traction product. Class ‘S’ clearance required 15 mm clearance from sidewall and 37 mm clearance from the thread face. This minimum clearance has to be maintained all around including fenders, brakes, system lines, strut housings etc.
- Speed rating. All cables/chains have been given a maximum speed rating. This data is essential and is to be complied with. Generally, do not go beyond that or cause tire spin inside that.
- Snow chains or snow cables. Most of the cars are designed to work with snow cables and not snow chains. This aspect has to be clarified as snow cables and snow chains are not interchangeable. The cables come under the category known as Alternate traction devices. Snow chains on other hand are subdivided into entry level, standard and premium. Alternate traction devices are generally used for passenger cars.
- Ease of fitment. For occasional users, ease of installation is also an important factor in consideration. Snow cables are generally the easiest to install .
- Practice of fitment. These are to be fitted while the vehicle is at standby. Hence practice their fitment at home prior to going out into the wild.
These snow cables basically add additional grabbing power to the footprint of the tire thereby pushing through the snow and ice. They make that additional difference between fishtailing, getting stuck in the wild or making it safely out of a sticky situation.
Some more theory here, Pattern of snow cables/chains??
These normally conform to the following patterns:
1. Diamond link pattern: these are designed keeping ABS and tractions control systems in mind and hence work in tandem with them.
2. Square link pattern: These promote better traction and durability.
3. Ladder style link pattern: designed for use in icy conditions and excel in gripping off road conditions.
4. Diagonal link pattern: These dig into the slippery conditions of the road more easily and efficiently that all the above.
So keeping all the above in mind, I decided to go in for a snow cable for my vehicle which had a tire specifications of 180/70R 14 . There are two industry leaders in these, one is Thule while the other is Security chain company. Thule was just not available in India in those days and also online I was not clarity in the models available when I was reading the specifications.
When I started reading about the products that SCC was offering, I came across one particular product which I eventually bought. This was SZ143 super Z6 Cable chain.
SCC SZ143 super Z6 Cable Chain
The SCC has a reputation for selling products that are remarkably easy to install and the super Z6 cable is no exception. Once the cable is on the tire, built in rubber tighteners take over and keep the cable tightened.
Construction details. The Super Z6 was designed was for cars, pickups with restricted clearance around the drive tires. The super Z6 requires only 6.3 mm of sidewall clearance to operate. The diagonal cross member pattern design provides traction. The cable is compatible with electronically monitored brake systems and are traction coils are manufactured from alloy steel.
Based on the limited use that I did and coupled with the data available following are the Take Aways from this particular product:
- This meets the S class specification effortlessly.
- Designed for sedans and with effortless ease of putting on and taking off.
- The rubber tighteners ensure that the cable remains tight at all times while the wheels are in movement
- It is compatible with electronically monitored brake systems.
- The product is ergonomically well made along with light weight and good quality material.
- Comes in a small duffel bag which can be stowed in the boot easily.
How many pairs are needed?
Two pairs are needed for a 4WD vehicle while minimum one pair is needed for a front wheel drive vehicle.
Do 4WD equipped vehicles need snow cables?
4WD is designed to propel the vehicle where the terrain is adverse, however snow cables are needed to provide that much needed ability to STOP a vehicle in snowed out icy conditions when requirement arises.
How do I procure these?
These are available online.
How do I prolong life of them?
Avoid tire spin, over speeding, use rubber tensioners all the time, avoid locking brakes, clean thoroughly after use and spray with anti-rust spray.
Additional link on tires : tires